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Cross my palm with silver and your future I shall see
April 12, 2010 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Palm is up for sale. Brief history and influence of this award winning maker of handheld devices. Does it have a future? posted by infini (90 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
My bet: Apple buys it, takes Rubenstein on as an advisor. He quickly convinces the board to oust Jobs and name him interim CEO and Palm takes Apple over from the inside.
posted by mazola at 8:21 AM on April 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


I owned and operated a Palm Treo for two years. Never in my life had I experienced such hate and anger towards a piece of technology.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:27 AM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let it die. I'm far more interested in what Google, Apple, and even Microsoft are up to in the mobile OS space.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:29 AM on April 12, 2010


Never in my life had I experienced such hate and anger towards a piece of technology.

Just last night I was in all seriousness tempted to throw my Nokia n810 on the ground in order to break it into little tiny pieces so that I could buy something else. The only thing that stopped me was that I knew my wife would hear the commotion and wouldn't let me buy a replacement.

Oh and she uses a Palm...III? Some incredibly ancient thing and AFAIK all she uses is the notepad as a shopping list. She may also keep her recipes on there.
posted by DU at 8:32 AM on April 12, 2010


WebOS was actually pretty cool. They made a critical mistake and didn't get the SDK out to developers soon enough, the marketing sucked and their timing was just incredibly unfortunate. I'm hoping either Google or HTC buys them. I dont think WebOS has a future, but they own a lot of patents that'll aid in the war with Apple and quite a lot of talented engineers who could be very valuable for Android development.
posted by signalnine at 8:34 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Despite all of Palm's mistakes in the past, I was really impressed by webOS. In particular, its approach to multitasking and, especially, notification blew away Apple - disregarding actual 3rd-party app availability, I preferred it to android's clunkiness by a big margin. I'd hoped they'd turn the pre into the primary iPhone competition, a role that at this point is clearly Android turf. Ah well. Good try, guys - and congrats on making Treo-->pre the most impressive transformation this side of "Wait, Windows 7 doesn't suck?"
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:40 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seconding signalnine... they recently released an update for WebOS that (finally) got things running real smooth to the point where it is actually fun.

The gray clunky devices they made for like retail ops and etc... pity pity pity pity.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:43 AM on April 12, 2010


My Palm Pre Plus has been very good to me. I'm sort of hoping HTC steps up to the plate.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:44 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Way back in ye olde 1998 I learned the Graffiti writing thing on a Palm and used it daily. I wonder if I can recycle those neurons.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:47 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


How much is it?
posted by Mister_A at 8:48 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I miss Handspring.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:49 AM on April 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


My bet: Apple buys it, takes Rubenstein on as an advisor. He quickly convinces the board to oust Jobs and name him interim CEO and Palm takes Apple over from the inside.

Wired Magazine would like to offer you a job... in 1997.

Seriously, few tech companies have as assiduously snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as Palm. They knew, well before Apple (which had, remember, failed spectacularly in their first effort at entering the PDA market) introduced the iPhone, that their OS was getting creaky and needed replacing, but they kept fumbling it and didn't come out with WebOS until well after Apple had taken over the market, and then screwed up again with some weird-ass ads showing this waif who needs a sack of cheeseburgers remote-controlling a bunch of monks or some dumb-ass shit.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:51 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


For a moment, I thought this post was about the steakhouse in New York, which would've been much more interesting.
posted by slogger at 8:53 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


My favorite handheld gadgets ever continue to be the slim PalmOS (prior to 5.0) devices from the Palm V to the Palm m515. My Nokia n800 is a nice piece of hardware, but I still haven't found it as useful as my Palms.

Maybe I should go sync my m500.
posted by Zed at 8:54 AM on April 12, 2010


If Palm still has the IP for BeOS, it sure would be nice of them to open it up to the public in some way. Although I suppose it was ahead of its time so long ago that, were it to be released now, it wouldn't be considered exceptional. :(
posted by Jpfed at 8:56 AM on April 12, 2010


Servo5678, my husband is loyal to his Handspring Visor(s). He has the phone module and uses it as his phone.

Every so often his Visor will start going fritzy and he'll search eBay for a replacement. Just last month, he got his latest Visor, a downgrade from color to black and white but much much lighter (although the phone module probably weights 6 oz.!) I think the Guinness people should give him an award for Oldest Cell Phone Still in continuous operation.

Eventually even eBay will run out of old Visors and he'll have to upgrade to something from this century.
posted by vespabelle at 8:58 AM on April 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


and when he upgrades, it probably won't be a Palm.
posted by vespabelle at 8:58 AM on April 12, 2010


My Palm V was a tank, even surviving a motorcycle crash. My Zire 72, not so much. My Treo 700p wasn't bad, but it was almost abandonware from the get-go. Verizon barely supported it, and almost no trace of it could be found on their website. Understandable, I guess, given their lack of resources and decision to go with WebOS, but still maddening. Since there was no PalmOS backwards compatibility I had no reason to stick with them, and I didn't. I was not alone.
posted by tommasz at 8:59 AM on April 12, 2010


I had a III (handed down by my Dad, who purchased a Vx), which I upgraded to a TX.

Actually, come to think of it, this is how I got my Psion Organiser II. And Psion 3a. And my first ThinkPad, which was a brick. Ah, obsolete technology, how I loved thee.

The Palm Foleo was slightly ahead of its time in concept - except the whole part about it not working without a Treo. WTF, Palm?
posted by djgh at 8:59 AM on April 12, 2010


Another Pre owner here - I'm very happy with the core experience and personally find it much more effective than the iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, and Motorola interfaces. Before the Pre I used a Nokia brick-phone with a monochrome display and no multimedia options at all. I hated dealing with smartphones for work and didn't decide to get one until after using the Pre interface. Their team has done a great job with the OS itself - marketing of the SDK and lack of third-party adoption has always been annoying, but all of the built-in things, and the few apps there are, are great.

It's going to be unfortunate if someone buys this only to kill off WebOS. If there isn't a good Google Android phone that has coverage I'm digging my Nokia 8015 out of a drawer and dropping the data plan.
posted by odinsdream at 8:59 AM on April 12, 2010


I've got no idea if someone will buy Palm, but if they made a modernized version of a Treo 650 (3g, browser that's useful, maybe even multitasking), I'd buy two.
posted by madajb at 8:59 AM on April 12, 2010


Wired Magazine would like to offer you a job... in 1997.

I'll take it!
posted by mazola at 9:00 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


In 2003 and 2004 I lived out of an already-obsolete Palm IIIc. I bought a little Landware GoType docking keyboard for it and typed all day long at my shitty market research job, throwing out random thoughts between calls. The one time I successfully finished a 50,000 word NaNoWriMo novel was on that thing, cranking pretty much the entire story out while listening to phonelines ring or navigating through corporate directory structures.

That particular model had a hardware pixel-tracking bug in a fair share of devices, that added +-4 pixels or so of horizontal noise to the stylus tracking—not enough to make the device unusable by any means, but enough to make sketching with it pretty weird. I sketched anyway, on the bus to and from work, making hectic little mostly-black-and-white 160x160 pixel drawings of whatever I could see out the window, of my fellow passengers, of whatever.

That stupid little thing was a big part of me staying sane for a year or two. Good luck, Palm.
posted by cortex at 9:04 AM on April 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


I liked my Palm V as well.

I suspect they'll get snatched up by a mobile phone company since they have a shit ton of patents. It'd be strange if Apple bought them, since I was under the impression several employees working on WebOS came from Apple, besides Rubenstein.
posted by chunking express at 9:06 AM on April 12, 2010


I've had a Palm from pretty much every generation, and currently tote a Pre.

I'm on my third Pre due to persistent crappy hardware, but if I dump it, I will probably switch to a Pixi (I was so used to a Treo that I prefer an upfront keyboard instead of a slider). I like webOS. I like the way it feels in my hand. I have always liked Palm's interfaces. That said, if I could have webOS on a Treo, I'd be in heaven.

I flirt with iPhone but the single-tasking on my Touch drives me nuts, plus I am possibly the only person in the world who would be reluctant to leave Sprint. I guess I could go to an Android phone but the OS leaves me cold.
posted by catlet at 9:13 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mister_A: According to Bloomberg, Palm had a market value of approx. $870 million before today. That probably doesn't mean a thing, though, so don't start writing that check just yet.
posted by daniel_charms at 9:13 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Vespabelle, I had a Visor Platinum in college and wondered how I'd ever gotten by without it. I wanted all of the Springboard modules including the phone and the dial-up adapter, but only ever bought the GPS unit (got it at a clearance sale when Handspring fell apart) and then only used it once during a trip to the midwest. I still have both the Visor and the GPS, but never use 'em. Technology marched on, plus the battery in the Visor is long dead and I just never bothered to replace it. Still, I have fond memories of sitting in a boring evening lecture and playing Space Trader.
posted by Servo5678 at 9:15 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh yes, I also had a keyboard attachment that, when used, made the Visor look like a Game Boy. Same thumb movements to use and everything. I used to get so much writing done between classes, then go home and upload my work to the PC. I do miss that ability.
posted by Servo5678 at 9:16 AM on April 12, 2010


Ah, Palm. Over the years, I had two Palm Pilots, one grayscale wonder (Palm III), which was outdated even then (darn you, Palm IIIc!), then a model with a tiny camera (one of the Zires). The resolution was terrible, and moving the camera while taking a picture did weird things, but I took so many pictures with it. I also sketched a bundle of little doodles, but my doodles died when the little blue wonder died, too. The Palm III felt so much more substantial than the Zire, which seemed like a tech toy than a serious product, but I enjoyed my time with them both.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:29 AM on April 12, 2010


The BeOS IP is owned by Access, so it wouldn't be part of any Palm purchase.

I loved my III, Vx, and Treo 650. I waited for them to upgrade their OS for a long as I could and then switched to an iPhone when the 3G was released. It's too bad, they tried and failed at least twice to develop a new platform before WebOS. If they had released Cobalt a few years ago the marketplace could be very different right now.

Or Apple would have still eaten their lunch, you never know.
posted by beowulf573 at 9:29 AM on April 12, 2010


I loved all my Palms, but my TX had a bad touchscreen that I could never get working. I've got a Touch now, but attractive and handy as it is, I'm not as emotionally connected with it as I was with the Palms. The fact that I have to keep it in a ziplock bag because it's incredibly sensitive to humidity probably doesn't help...

One thing I miss is the stylus...I liked being able to write and draw on the screen, and while the Touch's screen is more reliable, it doesn't have the fine resolution that the Palms had.

If someone can get Palm up and running again, I'd switch back in a heartbeat.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:38 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let it die. I'm far more interested in what Google, Apple, and even Microsoft are up to in the mobile OS space.

Palm has a huge patent portfolio whose strategic value wildly outstrips the total stock price of the company, and with Apple starting to get litigious, their owning Palm is very close to being a worst-case scenario for future innovation in the mobile space.
posted by mhoye at 9:39 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


...with some weird-ass ads showing this waif who needs a sack of cheeseburgers...

Aaaaah the creepy Palm lady!
posted by XMLicious at 9:46 AM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


My money would be on RIM to buy Palm to diversify into having a series of less business-ey smart phones and to update their operating system too.
posted by wcfields at 9:50 AM on April 12, 2010


I had a Palm Vx (rebadged as an IBM WorkPad; nearly identical except from the lettering on the case and a different LCD display), and used it almost as much as I use my iPhone today.

I got pretty hot at scribbling notes in graffiti, even while straphanging on a bus. Ultimately it became my notepad for a two-week roadtrip, and I logged a few thousand words on it, all entered with brisk angular scribbles. I got a keyboard for it but never used it as much as I expected; if I planned to sit down and set up on a table to write, it was just as easy to have a laptop with me, after all.

It had one of the best hard cases ever made for a mobile device, a plastic-and-metal clamshell that fit the thing perfectly while only adding a couple mm to its dimensions and barely any weight. I could stuff it in my back pocket and sit down on it without harming me or it. It wasn't so kind to my jeans, though.

The main downside was syncing. It was always a bit of a pain on the Mac, and as Apple introduced USB to its computers it became downright annoying, requiring expensive serial-USB cables that the Vx was unnecessarily fussy about, and which seemed to crap out after a while, requiring regular replacement. So, finally, when the Vx's battery began fading it wasn't too hard to put it away and move on.

That was still, in some ways, the best handheld I've ever used. That was ten or a dozen years ago now. It's a shame Palm went through such a long fallow period before the Pre.
posted by ardgedee at 9:52 AM on April 12, 2010


I hope that Nokia buys them as let's the Sunnyvale crowd to control the OS/ UI/ UE for all their smartphones. The Finns can build solid hardware and handle logistics.
posted by zeikka at 9:52 AM on April 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


They made a critical mistake and didn't get the SDK out to developers soon enough

I thought their mistake was they couldn't figure out what their platform was.

Gonna be a UNIX base, then Windows, then was it BeOS, then Windows, then Unix, then .... I forget the order and the way the leash was jerked this way or that.

I gave up caring and instead watched Motorola jerk me 'round with the Linux, someone elses Gnu/Linux, JaNix/jiux java/unix and now android.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:53 AM on April 12, 2010


> My money would be on RIM to buy Palm to diversify into having a series of less business-ey smart phones and to update their operating system too.

RIM bought QNX just last week, so their operating system needs should be covered.
posted by ardgedee at 9:54 AM on April 12, 2010


Palm made it difficult to sync with a Mac, made it difficult to program for, difficult to distribute and install applications for. Their software would duplicate records on syncs, requiring hours of clean-up work. They won't be missed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:57 AM on April 12, 2010


.

I'll miss Palm. They really messed up when they focused too much on PDAs and missed the emergence of "smartphones". By then RIM had dominance. Microsoft's solutions were always a joke compared to Palm's elegantly simple software.
posted by mister e at 10:03 AM on April 12, 2010


This brings back warm and fuzzy memories of my very first PDA, a Palm of course. Like Burhanistan and ardgedee, I learned Graffiti and got very fluent at it, so fast that I could take notes in Graffiti more quickly than I could type at a computer. (And I'm a pretty fast typist as I used to temp as a typist. Back in the days of IBM selectrics . . . ) I stayed loyal to Palm right up to my T/X, which currently sits cold and dead at home, waiting for me to get organized enough to wipe out its memory and donate it.

The problem with Palm for me is that gradually they stripped away all the things I loved best about their product. Graffiti was my favorite thing, and that went first, dumped for the travesty of Graffiti II and eventually for my T/X's complete lack of functionality for note taking. Then there were great applications like Avantgo and Vindigo, which fell by the wayside. The syncing with Outlook got clunkier and clunkier. And now my T/X is just irrelevant because my Droid does all it did and a hell of a lot more, faster and more smoothly and without paying through the nose for apps.

Oh, and did I mention battery life? I think the final straw for me was when my T/X started losing battery power like water, only a couple of years after acquisition, and when I called Palm they told me I'd need to send it in, lose all my data and apps, and wait for weeks for them to return it. No thanks.

I hope whoever buys Palm keeps the innovation and creativity of the company, and dumps the losers who forgot about functionality.
posted by bearwife at 10:05 AM on April 12, 2010


First I had a Psion Revo. I loved the design of that thing. Always had it on me.
Almost immediately thereafter Psion stopped making consumer products.
Then I had a Palm Tungsten. Like a Palm V with a keyboard. And then Palm got overtaken by Windows Mobile. The infamy!
I never had a PDA again and never had a telephone that did more than call.
I guess that the whirlwind of obsolescence of beloved technology broke my heart and as a result I can't warm to Apple gear f.i.

*Requiem for obsolescent technology*
posted by joost de vries at 10:05 AM on April 12, 2010


Apple starting to get litigious, their owning Palm is very close to being a worst-case scenario for future innovation in the mobile space.

Would it be better if Google had it? What about the EFF or Richard Stallman?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:05 AM on April 12, 2010


New sort of Windows Mobile 7 sort of smartphone
posted by Artw at 10:31 AM on April 12, 2010


They made a critical mistake and didn't get the SDK out to developers soon enough

I thought their mistake was they couldn't figure out what their platform was.


I thought their problem was totally in marketing. That's... not a response I usually have to anything, but hear me out here. WebOS absolutely blew every existing mobile OS out of the water when it launched. It multitasked properly, handled notifications cleanly where no one else even came close, and (most importantly) it Just Worked. I bought mine the second week they were available, and was amazed at what it did with contact management under the covers. Give it your email & Facebook password, and the next time you go looking for a contact, it suddenly knows the name and phone number of everyone you've ever met, and merges the data exactly the way you want it merged. The paradigm driving everything from individual apps to the bare OS was simple in a way that makes you wonder why no one else had ever thought of it: no matter what you're doing or where you are, if you want to find something, just start typing it. The phone'll figure out what you want.

If they'd marketed it on that one issue, they would have won. Hands-down, the Pre is a more usable device out-of-the-box than the iPhone is. You can give it to Grandma, explain the single underlying strategy to everything, and she'll have the rest figured out by lunch. It has some idiosyncrasies (it took them until last month to work out some of the latency issues when switching between windows and make it feel responsive, and it had some weird memory leaks associated with third-party data formats), but goddamn, it's a beautiful OS. And they waited until six months after launch, when the company was already hemorrhaging cash, to start a serious advertising campaign. And they ran the creepiest ads I've seen in a long time. And they tied themselves to Sprint, who did an even worse job marketing it. (Dear Sprint: an advertising campaign whose main selling point is "it can run multiple apps at once!" is completely fucking worthless when the iPhone appears to do the same thing, and you don't explain the distinction or why it's important) And they neglected the app store, despite Apple demonstrating handily that third-party applications are what make a phone sink or swim. And they regularly released minor OS updates that broke huge swaths of the existing app store for no discernible reason.

Palm had a hell of a thing, and they squandered it. I really hope whoever ends up buying them knows what to do with a really cool OS. Android can't seriously compete with iPhone OS. WebOS can, and even if you're rabidly pro-Apple, you have to agree that's a good thing--without Android & WebOS pressure, do you really think iPhone OS 4.0 would have anything resembling the feature set it has?
posted by Mayor West at 10:33 AM on April 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


I hope whoever buys Palm keeps the innovation and creativity of the company, and dumps the losers who forgot about functionality

I agree re: Nokia should buy it. Been having fun with my 5800 teaching it to recognize the way I write the alphabet. given the above, it should make a good match.

I also had the chance to work on a project with the team that designed the Zire the year after it won a slew of awards - both for device design as well as strategy - it sold like hotcakes the year it was launched. Gave me a lot of insight into their thinking and approach, truly, as has been said above, they have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of success.
posted by infini at 10:45 AM on April 12, 2010


Am I the only one here that, ever since, now writes a y in the funny original Palm graffiti way?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:59 AM on April 12, 2010


I loved my Visor. I used it to grade worksheets during class and sync it to mt Mac. I wish i had something that worked as well now.
posted by cccorlew at 11:00 AM on April 12, 2010


I loved Palm. Unfortunately I don't want to go smartphone during a recession, and it seems like the only non-smartphone option out there is the Touch, so I now have one of those instead. I still have my Palm Tungsten e2, and it still works for now, but I can't upload anything on it any more (the laptop I synced it to crashed) and I'm sort of afraid of using it when it isn't tied to any of my new machines.

To be fair, I love my Touch, but I loved my Palm too, and I'm sad to see it go.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:01 AM on April 12, 2010


Fwiw, palm zire design case study (pdf)
posted by infini at 11:02 AM on April 12, 2010


I have a Palm Pre and don't want to see WebOS vanish. It's far too good for that to happen. My bet is that HTC buys Palm. HTC needs to buy Palm to fend off the Apple lawsuit, and Palm needs HTC to buy them so they can have some high-quality hardware to put their great OS on.
posted by zsazsa at 11:05 AM on April 12, 2010


No one knows the pain I've felt in the period between the demise of the PSION organiser and the rise of low cost linux netbooks.
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree with Mayor West. I have a Palm Pre Plus and I really like it. There are a number of features on it that I would be sad to miss if I went to the iPhone. It's too bad they didn't release it and the SDK earlier, because it has to be the easiest smartphone platform to program for ever. WebOS apps are made with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

I know WebOS may not be long for this world. I'm hoping that some of the features it uses will be available elsewhere by the time I'm ready to replace the Pre. With the announcement of third-party multitasking for the iPhone, it looks like it will be.
posted by grouse at 11:07 AM on April 12, 2010


Also, the fact that Palm was able to produce such a great device even after everyone had written them off for dead (as in one of the links above from 2007) really speaks well to their product engineering staff. Bravo, guys, I hope this wasn't your last act, but it's a good way to go out.
posted by grouse at 11:15 AM on April 12, 2010


Hands-down, the Pre is a more usable device out-of-the-box than the iPhone is. You can give it to Grandma, explain the single underlying strategy to everything, and she'll have the rest figured out by lunch.

"... So, you see, Grandma, that's how you can connect all your friends to your phone through Facebook, and it's so simple!"

"A what book? Do I have a face book? I have a package of papers and discs that came with the computer. Is it in there?"
posted by krinklyfig at 11:20 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hands-down, the Pre is a more usable device out-of-the-box than the iPhone is.

+1, Funny
posted by entropicamericana at 11:24 AM on April 12, 2010


Palm Pre design team
posted by infini at 11:27 AM on April 12, 2010


As others have pointed out, the really valuable part of Palm is its patent portfolio. The timing of the sale is not coincidental, that with Nokia suing Apple, Apple suing HTC, and pretty much everybody and his cat suing RIM. The bidding battle is going to be fierce. Who's going to be willing and able to pay the most?
I reckon that not Nokia: their own patent portfolio is more than fearsome enough, and they probably need to hold onto their cash more than anybody else. The Finns may enter the bidding, if only for the sake of annoying Jobs, but I don't expect them to win it.
I don't expect RIM to put up much of a fight either: they've already their hands full as it is, and trying to rescue anything out of Palm would probably stretch their resources. Plus, although their patent portfolio isn't the behemoth that is Nokia's, it isn't negligible either.
No, the most likely bidders are Apple or an Asian handset maker. For all of Steve Jobs' bluster, the truth is that Apple's patent portfolio in the field of portable devices just isn't comparable with those of Nokia, Motorola, or even Samsung. Palm's big stash o' patents could be hugely useful for Apple in all their current litigation.
The same goes for HTC, with a little help from their Google friends. Getting their hands on the Palm patents could really turn the table in their ongoing litigation with Apple. Indeed, that is certainly the worst case scenario for Apple.
A dark horse could be Sony. Their various portable devices (PSP, SonyEricsson phones, to say nothing about their MP3 players) are steadily losing market share to all those uppity newcomers, and they must feel extremely frustrated about it. Plus, they already cooperated with Palm (remember the Sony Clio PDA?). But I still expect the real bidding war to take place between Apple and HTC/Google.
posted by Skeptic at 11:46 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Palm has a fantastic engineering and design team and I feel like they deserve accolades for WebOS. It's a shame they were plagued by horrible luck and marketing.
posted by a sourceless light at 11:49 AM on April 12, 2010


I should have gotten commissions from Handspring... I was quite the evangelist for the Visor line when it came out. What an interesting window that was; after PalmOS had established itself as the standard and before smartphones had pulled it together enough to be affordable and capable of doing everything that springboard modules promised. Unfortunately the springboard concept was doomed by the fact that 1) The most desirable modules cost nearly as much as the PDA itself and 2) The *killer* modules were endlessly delayed, or in some cases never released. (Remember the 6-in-1? I don't even remember what it was supposed to do, but it was the Duke Nuke'Em of springboard modules.)

The coolest accessory EVER was my Stowaway keyboard, though. A stunning bit of engineering that really did greatly expand the PDA's usefulness. I wish I could use it with my iPhone.

Maybe whoever winds up with Palm will dust off BeOS and do something with it. Hey, we can dream!
posted by usonian at 11:54 AM on April 12, 2010


I think the BeOS assets ended up with PalmSource which is now known as ACCESS Systems Americas. Palm Inc. doesn't have them.
posted by grouse at 11:55 AM on April 12, 2010


The Palm Foleo was slightly ahead of its time in concept - except the whole part about it not working without a Treo. WTF, Palm?

This drives me ten kinds of nuts, because of course this is a marketing problem; the Foleo worked absolutely fine without a Treo. It was a nice, lightweight, well-thought-out solid-state netbook, ready to launch a year before the eee hit the market.

The problem was Palm's marketing people, who insisted that the thing be sold as a "Treo accessory", confusing the market. Of course, the device would have found its own market-- had it not been killed days before launch by a management team so spineless they would kill a great product because people were saying mean things about them on blogs.

Palm lent us a pre-release Foleo about four months before launch, and I still think it has the nicest industrial design of any netbook I've used.
posted by phooky at 12:06 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem was Palm's marketing people, who insisted that the thing be sold as a "Treo accessory", confusing the market.

It wasn't? That changes my view of the thing considerably. What was the price point again?
posted by Artw at 12:09 PM on April 12, 2010


positioning and strategy.

This is why the Foleo was panned - the product was not dissimilar to the eeePC but aimed at too narrow a niche amongst a jaded audience saturated with broadband and computing choices. Its position and relevance wasn't clearly defined. Its intended audience didn't "need" it.

But ASUS, on the other hand, clearly framed the design challenge - meeting an unmet need, that of affordable computing for emerging markets, not a niche market by any count - so the design team was able to come with a better solution at the right price point effectively. And human beings aren't all that different so the eeePC managed to hit a few buttons everywhere else as well. This clarity of the design strategy is what allowed it to get all the details right, it wasn't simply aiming at "cheap and small". Those are features that support the goal, not the goal itself.

Its a brilliant piece of marketing strategy to begin launching a product aimed at the newbie in what is probably the most sophisticated computer market in the world. Why? Because what is the one thing geeks and hackers and lovers of gadgets, those early adopters, will do once they get their hands on one of these babies? Blog about them, talk about them, create forums and boards for them, write patches and apps for it etc etc etc. By the time the eeePC gets out to the people for whom its really meant for, all the bugs and kinks would have been worked out for the most part, help and information will be available online.

posted by infini at 12:52 PM on April 12, 2010


Man. This is too bad, I really love my Palm Pre. Just the other day it got video, too. Just made a video of me eating a shooter sandwich. This sucks.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:57 PM on April 12, 2010


MeFi Foleo thread

Oh look, there's me, pining for my PSION. And there's cstross saying we are not the target market... You know, I'm beginning to become a bit suspicious of the prospects of products where "we are not the target market" is invoked (people are saying that about the Kin, above) - that said people talk about how we are not the target market for the iPad all the time and that sells like hot cakes.
posted by Artw at 1:10 PM on April 12, 2010


I bought my first PalmOS device in 1997 or so; it was a Palm Pilot 5000. I bought a few more after that, among them a Palm T3 I got in 2004. I retired it last year, replacing it with a new(ish) T5, only to find out that the T5's handwriting recognition is painfully slow.

I also bought a Treo 650 (well, two broken ones, from which I fashioned a fully working Frankentreo) on eBay last year, mostly as to have my PalmOS data with me. My calendar's canonical format is still a PalmOS database, as it was 13 years ago, and I haven't found anything as good as the PalmOS MemoPad app for taking notes. (Evernote on the iPhone is a bit flaky, and Apple's organiser apps are a bit too minimal in terms of features.)

I was hoping that the Pre and WebOS were going to save Palm, but, alas, it seems that the execution was fatally flawed. Anyway, I'm hoping that whoever picks Palm up does something with WebOS; with a bit more work, it could be really impressive.
posted by acb at 3:02 PM on April 12, 2010


Many fine memories of palm And pluckr. Being able to do a few things well is an accomplishment. I often imagine a new palm that has the old limited functions but costs $10.
posted by eccnineten at 3:14 PM on April 12, 2010


Many fine memories of palm And pluckr. Being able to do a few things well is an accomplishment. I often imagine a new palm that has the old limited functions but costs $10.

The problem is that at this point, everybody has a cell phone. And when you can pay $50 more (or $0 more) than a cheapo minimal phone to get one that also does everything that limited Palm did, why would you bother? Carrying two devices was always one of the biggest problems with pitching PDAs to people who (generally) already carried cell phones; in the early days there was a lot of "does both, sucks at both" sentiment, and I was one of those saying it. But these days we have good phones that are also good PDAs, inasmuch as "PDA" is even a useful term any more, so why should we bother adding all that extra hassle of an extra device?
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:20 PM on April 12, 2010


What I don't get is, if so many people apparently love their Palm (which jives with my own anecdotal experiences with other Palm owners), then why aren't they doing better in the market?

I'm starting to think Halloween Jack might be right.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:24 PM on April 12, 2010


As a fan of old Palms, they went in the wrong direction, for what I wanted (I stress that I'm not asserting that what would have satisfied me would have brought them success in the marketplace.)

I like stylus-based input, especially with fitalystamp, but graffiti was ok. I hate thumb-keyboards. I like small and lightweight. Everything after the m515 was bulkier (in part due to thumb keyboards.) I liked Palm OS 4.0 and hackmaster-compatible OS extensions. Palm OS 5 broke (most of) them. I was satisfied with the speed and memory of the m5xx series, which was fine for the apps I was interested in. They kept coming out with more powerful devices that were commensurately more expensive.

If they wanted to keep me, all they needed to do was maintain backwards compatibility, keep it stylus-based, and only add power and features consistent with not getting bigger, heavier, or much more expensive.

Gah, this really is making me want to go back to my m500. Wonder how its battery is doing.
posted by Zed at 3:54 PM on April 12, 2010


I have a Tungsten C sitting in a drawer. It was really quite the looker in its day.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:01 PM on April 12, 2010


So I should stop holding my breath for the Pre to come to CingulAT&T? =(
posted by Eideteker at 4:28 PM on April 12, 2010


I should add, in response to what Civil_Disobedient said above, that I was a Palm user for ten years--five times as long as I've had the iPhone--with five of those years using the Palm III for my PDA; it had its problems (I had to figure out the trick of resetting the touchscreen cable myself), and I ended up replacing the case, but otherwise it was a rock. Had two Zires after that, and they had cameras and color screens and stuff, but they seemed a lot flimsier than the P3. Got a Treo and got a couple years' worth of use out of it, but near the end it simply stopped syncing; I tried every trick I could find to fix it, no dice.

I may decide to try Android once my iPhone contract is up, but despite some of the shiny-shiny aspects, I'm not really tempted by WebOS, due to the ongoing slo-mo corporate clusterfuck at Palm.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:05 PM on April 12, 2010


I'm still very happy with my Palm Zire. I really prefer the Zire's stylus function over my cell phone's "thumb" function, and to my knowledge I can't load e-books on my cell. I'll be very interested to see who the Palm stuff ends up with.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:09 PM on April 12, 2010


entropicamericana wrote: "Hands-down, the Pre is a more usable device out-of-the-box than the iPhone is.

+1, Funny
"

I hate to thread-shit, but if the iPhone was as user-friendly as people make it out to be, my clients wouldn't have so much trouble getitng them working. Invariably either iTunes (on Windows) does something stupid and refuses to sync or they can't get their email working right, even after I write them an email with the settings.

Not that anything else is better, to my knowledge. (None of my clients use the Pre, because everybody hates Sprint around these parts, as their network completely blows)

Skeptic wrote: "I reckon that not Nokia: their own patent portfolio is more than fearsome enough, and they probably need to hold onto their cash more than anybody else."

I won't disagree with your conclusion, but the premise here is flawed. Nokia is still minting money with their handset division. They sold more smartphones last year than the next three competitors combined, with another 800,000 left over. They also sold more units of feature phones than the entirety of the smartphone market, including Nokia, combined. (So did Samsung, for that matter)
posted by wierdo at 7:46 PM on April 12, 2010


I love my Pre! I found it to be the most intuitive smartphone on the market, and perfectly suited to my personal style of use (back and forth, multitasking, brightly colored organizational tools to keep me focused). I am managing my own photography business, and it has been leaps and bounds easier to track clients, meetings, shoots, emails, etc., since I got the Pre.

Late-to-the-game marketing and smartphone release seems to be a culprit here, and I hope a potential sale keeps these phones in the market.
posted by thatbrunette at 7:56 PM on April 12, 2010


I have loved my many and various Palms I've used over the past decade or so, college would not have been the same without them. Palm IIIxe, Palm m515, Palm Tungsten E, two Palm T|X's and now I've got my Pre. I really enjoy my Pre I just wish the 3rd party apps would come along more. i.e. DataViz where the hell is my Documents to Go I was promised.
I would be very sad to see Palm die. I really don't particularly want an iPhone and I would never switch to AT&T. Android looks cool but I stopped looking at it the first moment I heard Palm was coming out with WebOS. It's a slick OS.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:44 PM on April 12, 2010


I miss Handspring.

I miss my Handspring Edge. I had a little MIDI connector add-on that I used with a PalmOS MIDI pattern sequencer, hooked up to a Nord Lead. So much fun.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:20 PM on April 12, 2010


Loved my T3. Its glowing screen is even now the sole illumination in my office, plugged into a Windows box that I seldom turn on. Used fitaly and could input data much faster than I can now with my Android Ion. Seriously used to write on that thing. I also miss plucker with which I read books from gutenberg daily. But the improved connectivity Android brings ended it. I'm still waiting for a sensible input device that will work with one hand and a decent battery, of course. Not holding breath.
posted by fartknocker at 10:03 PM on April 12, 2010


The Foleo was never a good idea. I don't want to get myself in trouble, but I worked there, and I nearly quit the first time I saw one. And that was on my first day.
posted by jewzilla at 11:31 PM on April 12, 2010


I love my Palm Pre more than I've ever loved a cellphone or a PDA, and I had the Palm III, and before that the Motorola StarTac. Sigh. I hope the webos is picked up and carried through by someone.

The failure of the Pre was completely and totally a marketing failure. The initial Sprint ads were bizarre, unenlightening, and rather rare. Contrast them to today's ads from Verizon which are ubiquitous and which actually show what the phone can do. What a concept.

You know, I've had Sprint service for 10 years, and I've never had a problem. Usually, when others lose reception on their AT&T phones or whatever, I still have a few bars, and my data speed is way better than anyone else's. I'm also pretty shocked at the differences in voice and data plan rates between Sprint and the other carriers -- Sprint service is ludicrously cheaper. I think Sprint's failure to thrive is yet another marketing failure, perpetually snatching defeat from the jaws of victory despite what should be a winning combination of price and performance.
posted by 2xplor at 8:08 PM on April 13, 2010


2xplor wrote: "I think Sprint's failure to thrive is yet another marketing failure"

I think their failure to thrive is caused more by their terrible coverage in the middle parts of the country. Even in the places they claim to cover around here the signal quality is very poor.
posted by wierdo at 10:50 PM on April 13, 2010


Psion's new take on internet business - they're back! Way, way toolate, no doubt, but back!
posted by Artw at 1:11 AM on April 16, 2010


Updated Windows Phone 7 videos show Office doing awesome things
posted by Artw at 8:04 AM on April 24, 2010


HTC Walks Away From Palm Bid: Will Lenovo Bite?
posted by Artw at 8:07 AM on April 24, 2010


HP to buy Palm for $1.2 Billion.

I was wrong. :P
posted by mazola at 1:58 PM on April 28, 2010


you know else HP bought and remember what happened?
posted by infini at 12:29 AM on April 29, 2010


Oooh, ooh, was it Hitler?
posted by Eideteker at 6:45 AM on April 30, 2010


MeFi post on the acquisition.
posted by grouse at 7:16 AM on April 30, 2010


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